U.S. extradites woman suspected of Bosnia war crimes

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 27, 2011 1:43 PM
U.S. extradites woman suspected of Bosnia war crimes

By Daria Sito-Sucic

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - The United States on Tuesday extradited to Bosnia a Bosnian female ex-soldier suspected of murdering six Croatians in 1993 during a war that ripped the region apart, the prosecutor's office in Sarajevo said.

Rasema Handanovic, a 39-year-old Muslim, was detained upon her arrival in Bosnia.

She is suspected of taking part in the mass murder of Croatian civilians in Bosnia-Herzegovina in April 1993, when she was a member of the Bosnian army special unit known as "Zulfikar," the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

More than 100,000 people were killed during the Bosnian war of 1992-95. Muslims and Croatians fought each other in 1993-94 even though they had entered the conflict as allies against the Bosnian Serbs.

"Rasema Handanovic is suspected of personally taking part in executing by firing squad three soldiers of the Croatian Defence Council who had surrendered and three civilians ... in the hamlet of Gaj, (in) the Trusina village," the statement said.

The attack on the Croatian village resulted in the deaths of 18 civilians and four soldiers. Several people were wounded, including two children.

Last week, a U.S. naturalized citizen, Edin Dzeko, was deported to Bosnia over his alleged participation in the crime.

The Bosnian war crimes court is currently trying six members of the "Zulfikar" unit for war crimes in Trusina, including the unit's commander, Zulfikar Alispago.

Handanovic is one of only a few females wanted for war crimes committed during the Bosnian conflict. One suspect, Azra Basic, is being detained in the United States awaiting extradition over war crimes against Serb detainees.

So far, the only woman to have been convicted over Bosnian war crimes is Biljana Plavsic, the former Bosnian Serb president who had been a member of the Bosnian Serb wartime leadership.

The Hague-based war crimes tribunal sentenced Plavsic to 11 years in jail in 2003 for persecution of Bosnian Muslims and Croatians and crimes against humanity. She was released after serving two-thirds of her sentence and now lives in Belgrade.

(Reporting By Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Alessandra Rizzo)